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Magic mushrooms may ‘reset’ depressed brains: Study

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London, Oct 14, 2017: A psychoactive compound occurring naturally in “magic mushrooms” may help reduce symptoms of depression as well as “reset” brain activity in affected patients, a study has shown.

The findings demonstrated that Psilocybin mushrooms, also known as psychedelic mushrooms, effectively reset the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression.

“We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments,” said Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial College London.

“Several of our patients described feeling “reset” after the treatment. Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary kick start they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a reset analogy,” Carhart-Harris added.

For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team examined patients with treatment-resistant form of the disorder with two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg).

Following the treatment, patients reported a decrease in depressive symptoms, corresponding with improvements in mood and stress relief.

Functional MRI imaging revealed reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, including the amygdala — a small, almond-shaped region of the brain known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear.

These benefits lasted up to five weeks after treatment, the researchers said.

While the initial findings are encouraging, patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate, as things may go awry if the extensive psychological component of the treatment is neglected, the researchers warned.

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UN urges international community to unite against terroism amid pandemic

The Secretary-General urged member states to keep the momentum in the fight against terrorism and be innovative in their responses, which must protect and promote human rights.

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, July 7 : A week-long UN Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week has kicked off to discuss the strategic and practical challenges of countering terrorism in a global pandemic environment.

Speaking at the high-level opening session on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “Like the virus, terrorism does not respect national borders. It affects all nations and can only be defeated collectively.

“So, we must harness the power of multilateralism to find practical solutions.”

The UN chief warned that “IS, Al Qaeda, their regional affiliates – as well as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups – seek to exploit divisions, local conflicts, governance failures and grievances to advance their objectives”, reports Xinhua news agency

The Secretary-General urged member states to keep the momentum in the fight against terrorism and be innovative in their responses, which must protect and promote human rights.

“We must commit to do more and better. As in every other area of our mission. Our work should be assessed by the difference we make in people”s lives,” he stressed.

The Virtual Counter-Terrorism Week encompasses a total of 10 webinars and interactive discussions, in which more than 1,000 representatives will address key counter-terrorism topics in light of the COVID-19 crisis across all four pillars of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

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High BP pills can also reduce colorectal cancer risk

“Our results provide new insights on a potential role of these medications for colorectal cancer prevention,” said study author Wai K Leung from the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong, July 6 : Researchers have now claimed that medications commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure may also reduce patients’ colorectal cancer risk.

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-i) or angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) medications are prescribed for conditions such as heart failure, high blood pressure or heart disease. These medications inhibit or block angiotensin, a chemical that causes arteries to become narrow, the researchers said.

Doctors commonly prescribe these medications to people with high blood pressure to relax and open blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure.

The current study, published in the Hypertension, an American Heart Association journal, revealed that taking these medications may also reduce colorectal cancer risk.

“Our results provide new insights on a potential role of these medications for colorectal cancer prevention,” said study author Wai K Leung from the University of Hong Kong in Hong Kong.

“This is the first study to show the potential beneficial effects of ACE inhibitors and ARBs on colorectal cancer development, based on a large group of patients who were colorectal cancer-free at the beginning of the study,” Leung added.

The roles of ACE inhibitors and ARBs on cancer development are controversial and, in some cases, study findings are conflicting. Results of previous studies have been limited by several factors including a small number of patients and data only on short-term follow-ups.

For the present study, the research team reviewed health records of 187,897 adult patients in Hong Kong from 2005 to 2013, with a negative baseline colonoscopy for colorectal cancer. The analysis found that those who took hypertension medications such as ACE-i or ARBs had a 22 per cent lower risk of developing colorectal cancer in the subsequent three years.

The benefits of ACE-i and ARBs were seen in patients 55 or older and those with a history of colon polyps and the benefit associated with the medications were limited to the first three years after the negative baseline colonoscopy.

“While ACE-i and ARBs are taken by patients with high blood pressure, heart failure and kidney diseases, the reduction in colorectal cancer risk may be an additional factor for physicians to consider when choosing anti-hypertensive medications,” Leung said.

Researchers noted that the results should be verified with a prospective randomised controlled study, which would actively follow patients to determine the potential benefits of these medications on colorectal cancer risk.

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Preliminary trial success, Covid vax could be out by Dec: Bangladeshi scientist

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Dhaka : Claiming success in preliminary animal modelling trial of Covid-19 vaccine, Globe Biotech Limited has claimed to be the first company from Bangladesh to have a Covid-19 vaccine under development. It says it is aiming for a December 2020 availability of the vaccine in the market.

They received the result after conducting the preliminary trial on five rabbits from June 10 to June 28, says Dr Asif Mahmud, Assistant Manager and incharge of Research and Development, Globe Biotech Limited, in an exclusive interview to IANS.

Earlier, he led the team to claim success in preliminary trial for the vaccine in national capital Dhaka on Thursday afternoon.

Excerpts from the interview of scientist Dr Asif Mahmud

Q: Globe Biotech is a research company in Bangladesh. Is it a branch of any MNC in the world?

A: No, in fact, Globe Biotech Limited is a Biological Drug Discovery Company in operation in Bangladesh since 2015. The project was started by our CEO Kankon Nag and COO Dr Nazneen Sultana. We have prepared 18 bio similar. We are also working on our own Nobel drug. After completing the animal trials of 6 bio similar, we have applied for Ethical Approval through our PRO at the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in Dhaka. We have that ability and experience to invent a vaccine against this pandemic. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, after a Covid-19 patient was reported in Bangladesh on March 8, we shifted our focus to SARS-Cov2 and started 3 new projects. Number one — we will do kit development; number two — we will do vaccine development for the country; and in the last — the biological molecule development.

Q: Is the research by Globe Biotech independent? Or is your research done under the supervision of any other country?

A: Globe Biotech is researching independently. Under the supervision of our CEO and COO, both of whom supervised the team from Canada. They are experienced in this matter. Dr Kankon was directly involved in the HIV vaccine project. He is using that experience here. We are conducting research under their direct supervision. A 12-member scientific group started research on March 18 under the leadership of both.

We have taken some 76 genome sequences under consideration, wherein we found that a sequence (numbered 614) has a mutation point that they have used for amino acid bonding.

Q: Which method did you follow for the research you are undertaking? And how do you make sure it will work to protect people from Covid-19?

A: We went for the SPR method for the tests. Surface plasmon resonance (SPR) is a phenomenon where electrons in the metal surface layer are excited by photons of incident light with a certain angle of incidence, and then propagated parallel to the metal surface. It is an optical technique utilised for detecting molecular interactions. Actually, we have set a vaccine target. We have analysed the sequences from all the databases we have worldwide, including the sequences in Bangladesh. We set the target by our analysis. We have modified that target according to our needs. We have set multiple targets.

We have placed multiple delivery systems in consideration.

By applying the delivery system we have done an animal trial on rabbits.

By this we have got a very good antibody titer. And those antibodies have shown strong binding affinity with our antigen. We have additional candidates, some of which we have presented to the press. But the company is yet to apply for a patent or any publication; and before the patent is ensured it would not disclose the data received from the trial. We have said that we need to convert the data from the preliminary animal trial into a regulated animal trial. That we will do within the next 6 to 8 weeks. Then we will apply for Ethical Approval.

Q: This 6 to 8 weeks period, to get proof of animal trial? Or, for trial on humans?

A: No, we have already got proof of antibody generation in the preliminary animal trial. Now, it needs to be converted to a regulated animal trial. Because, for human trial, we have to submit it to the regulatory body for Ethical Approval. Regulated trials will require some further characterisation. Then, we will apply for human trials.

Q: Did you inform about your research to the drug administration of the country?

A: Not yet. There is no role of the regulatory body now. When we do a regulated animal trial, of course, we go to the regulatory body.

Q: What are your expectations? When will the vaccine be released?

A: We have already formulated the regulated animal trial guidelines and the tests would be concluded within four to six weeks. Thereafter, the company will seek Ethical Approval from the Bangladesh Medical Research Council (BMRC) in early September, when the data from the Regulated Animal Trial reaches us within 6 to 7 weeks.

And then, we will apply for market authorisation to the regulatory authority in December within three months after completing the phases 1, 2 and 3. If everything goes smoothly, we expect to be able to bring our vaccine to the market by December.

Q: If you get government support, do you think success for you can be faster or smoother?

A: Obviously! This will be the first discovery of this vaccine in Bangladesh. The first task always comes with more obstacles and hindrances. We will remove the obstacles with the support of the government and will bring the vaccine to the market in due course.

(Sumi Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

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